New Car Reviews

2011 BMW 535i – Four Seasons Update – June 2010

Long-Term 2011 BMW 5-Series Update: Spring 2010 Array Miles to date: 0

Months in fleet: One
Miles to date: 4265

The sixth-generation of BMW’s venerable 5-series is here, and there’s more going on than meets the eye. Yes, the styling is all new-and certainly improved-the sheetmetal stretched over a 3.2-inch longer wheelbase. Under the skin, there’s been a switch from a damper-strut front suspension to double wishbones, the power steering assist is electric rather than hydraulic, and the 5 uses four-wheel steering for the first time. So we’ll have lots to think about as we pilot our new 535i during the next twelve months.

Powering the 535i is a turbocharged inline six, which trades the previous version’s two turbochargers for a single, twin-scroll unit. Output, at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, is the same, although fuel economy is said to improve. The 535i is the middle child in the new 5-series lineup, sitting above the 528i (240-hp 3.0-liter six, $45,425 starting price), and below the 550i (400-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, $60,575 starting price). The 535i and the 550i offer the option of a six-speed manual (in place of the eight-speed automatic).

Our car came very well equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package (adaptive dampers, active roll stabilization, and adaptive drive); Sport Package (19-inch wheels, multi-contour seats, special trim, and the all-important 150-mph speed limiter); Driver Assistance Package (lane departure warning, blind spot warning, park assist, and automatic high beams); Convenience Package (keyless ignition and soft-close doors); Premium Package (leather, and some minor items); and navigation, among other things. The long list pushes the base price of $50,475 to $65,425-well into 550i territory. For all that, we didn’t get heated seats or satellite radio, which we might miss as time goes on.

In fact, there was quite a bit more we could have added-night vision, active steering, active cruise control, rear-seat DVD, active seats. 5-series buyers like to lard their cars with options, which helps make BMW’s second most popular model (after the 3-series) the source of 50 percent of the company’s profits. So the 5-series is a very important car for BMW.

We dispatched copy editor Rusty Blackwell to a BMW launch event in New Jersey to pick up our 535i. He reports:

“I took delivery of our 4S 535i at New Jersey Motorsports Park, at the conclusion of a BMW media event. After filling the tank, I set off on the 638-mile journey to my house. About ten-and-a-half hours later, I arrived home in Michigan, where the 5-series’ trip computer reported that I’d averaged 29.9 mpg and 69.3 mph. Not too shabby, although my calculated average mileage (after my next morning’s 24-mile commute) was 28.9 mpg. Either way, that’s pretty good for a mid-size luxury car, especially since we primarily cruised at 8 to 14 mph over the speed limit and had to combat some heavy rain around Pittsburgh.

“I’m really glad that our long-termer has navigation, but I longed for satellite radio. Fortunately, the iPod integration is impeccable and you can easily surf through your tunes via the iDrive controller. I was also quite happy that our car came without BMW’s annoying active cruise control, which lacks the ability to operate in old-fashioned, standard-cruise-control mode.

“Despite some wind noise on the highway and a blind-spot-detection system that showed a fail message on one occasion, our new blue 5-series offered smooth sailing as I set my personal best for miles driven in a single day. I’m already eyeing our 535i for future road trips.”

2011 BMW 535i

Base price (with destination): $50,475
Price as tested: $65,425

Standard Equipment:
3.0-liter single-turbocharged DOHC inline 6-cylinder
8-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and DBC
Dynamic stability control and traction control
Xenon adaptive headlights with auto-leveling and corner lights
Rain-sensing wipers
10-way power adjustable driver’s and front seat with memory
AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player audio system and HD radio
2-way power moonroof
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Automatic headlight control
Leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel
iDrive system with on-board computer
Vehicle monitor system
Cruise control
Adaptive brake lights

Options on this vehicle:
Dynamic handling package — $2700
Electronic Damping Control
Active Roll Stabilization
Adaptive Drive
Sport package — $2200
19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires
Sports leather steering wheel
Mulit-contour seats
Increased top-speed limiter
Shadowline exterior trim
Navigation system — $1900
Premium package — $1800
Auto-dimming mirrors
Ambiance lighting
Garage door opener
Dakota leather
Driver assist package — $1750
Automatic high beams
Lane departure warning
Active blind spot detection
Parking assist
Convenience package — $1700
Comfort access keyless entry
Soft-close automatic doors
Side and top view cameras — $800
Park distance control — $750
Deep Sea Blue metallic paint — $550
Rearview camera — $400
iPod and USB adapter — $400

Key options not on vehicle:
Active ventilated seat package — $2950
Cold weather package — $1050
Premium package 2 — $4900
Premium package plus:
Heated front seats
Power rear sunshade
Satellite radio
Night vision with pedestrian detection — $2600
Active cruise control — $2400
Rear-seat entertainment — $2200
Active steering — $1750
Head-up display — $1300
Satellite radio — $350

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected DOHC inline 6-cylinder
Horsepower: 300 @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1200-5800 rpm

Fuel economy: city/hwy/combined
20 / 29 / 23

Drive: Rear-wheel

8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic

Unladen weight: 4090 lbs.

Wheels/tires: 19-inch V-spoke alloy wheels
245/40R19 94Y front; 275/35R19 96Y rear; Goodyear Excellence performance run-flat tires

Competitors: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF, Infiniti M37, Hyundai Genesis sedan, Cadillac CTS